Summit at Norwich Cathedral to tackle East Anglia’s church lead thieves
- Credit: ©Archant Photographic 2010
Criminal gangs have raided a string of historic churches across the region.
Rural congregations have been left facing a bill for tens of thousands, to replace the lead and repair the damage raids cause to ancient buildings.
Now the Diocese of Norwich is hosting a one-day conference at Norwich Cathedral, which it hopes will help churches avoid becoming victims of crime.
'It's going to be covering the kinds of things the police are recommending,' said Caroline Rawlings, the diocese's church development officer.
'Hedgerows, gates locked, locking the church at night, different types of alarm systems.
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'We can't protect them any other way now, it's got to be alarms and CCTV systems.'
The seminar is being held on Monday, July 11. The agenda includes improving communications between parishes and police, updates on recent thefts, guidance on the use of alternative roofing materials and security systems.
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Contributors will include police, Ecclesiastical Insurance and Historic England, along with security and roof alarm firms.
East Anglia's far-flung rural churches have become a mecca for lead thieves in recent years, with travelling gangs believed to behind many of the 50 or so thefts in Norfolk, Suffolk and South Lincolnshire over the last two years.
In March, a 23-year-old man from Birmingham was jailed for 32 months after admitting stealing lead from St Peter's Church, in Guestwick and All Saints Church, in Alby.
Norwich Crown Court heard congregations were left to pick up a £47,000 bill.
St Mary's at Carleton Forehoe, near Wymondham, was hit by thieves who stole lead and damaged its roof last month, leaving a £30,000 repair bill.
The EDP and its sister paper the East Anglian Daily Times have put up a £26,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of those responsible for stripping our region's churches of lead.
We have also printed and distributed posters warning would be thieves communities are watching out for them.
Anyone who has any information about lead thefts should call police on 101.
The Seminar will be held on Monday, July 11 (9.30am – 2pm), at the Weston Room, Norwich Cathedral NR1 4D. To book, call Margaret Mallett, on 01603 882359.